Plans to move three of London’s most famous wholesale food markets to the outer east of the capital have been formally presented to Barking & Dagenham Council.
Under outline proposals submitted by the City of London Corporation, Billingsgate (fish), Smithfields (meat) and New Spitalfields (fruit and vegetables) will all be relocated to a new 42-acre site at Dagenham Dock.
It will be the first time in their long histories that the three markets have been consolidated in the same place.
The new site was previously home to the gas-fired Barking Reach Power Station, which was decommissioned from 2018 having been constructed between 1992 and 1995. The City purchased the site at the end of 2018. The design for the new buildings by architects Chetwoods are to be realised using what the City calls “sustainable materials and using the latest environmental technology”.
The City describes the submission of the outline plans as “the latest milestone for the markets c0-location programme”. Barking & Dagenham’s planning committee will consider the plans later this year and the the City will produce further, more detailed plans if consent is secured. The target year for the opening of the re-located markets is 2025/26.
Billingsgate fish market originated at Billingsgate Wharf by Lower Thames Street in the 16th century and and was formally established by an Act of Parliament in 1699. It was enlarged in the 1870s and in 1982 moved to Poplar, next to Canary Wharf. The City pays Tower Hamlets, which owns the Poplar site, “the gift of one fish” in annual ground rent.
Meat has been traded at Smithfield market since the 10th century, with the current Smithfield on Charterhouse Street legally established in 1860. When the market moves, one of the market buildings will become the new homes of the Museum of London.
Leyton has been the home of New Spitalfields since 1991, after vacating the Old Spitalfields site just outside the City boundary. Vegetables and meat had been sold there since the 17th century, and the City acquired it as a wholesale operation in 1920.
The City says the relocations will secure the long-term futures of the markets, giving them space for expansion and also enabling them to be served by rail rather than road links. Last year, Dagenham & Rainham MP Jon Cruddas told On London there was great local enthusiasm for the project in an area that has endured long-term economic decline.
Image: CGI of new market buildings, courtesy City of London Corporation.
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